One of the subjects covered by the curricula of almost any reliable horse training school in Colorado is stereotypic behavior. Influenced by the environment the horse lives in, its likelihood can be reduced by ensuring adequate friends, freedom, forage and training.
Stereotypic Behavior Basics
Stereotypic behavior can be defined as repeated behavior with no apparent function or purpose. It is commonly encountered in domestic horses, and specialists blame it on the modern equine management systems that do not take into account natural horse behavior.
Without the conditions and the means to behave naturally, horses experience increasing levels of stress and develop stereotypic behaviors. Thus, although possible in horses with companions, it is more common in isolated, stabled horses.
The most common stereotypic equine behaviors are:
- Tongue lolling
- Box / fence walking
Understanding and Preventing Stereotypic Horse Behavior
The challenge in managing stereotypic horse behaviors is that, once developed, stereotypy is difficult to eliminate. That is why experts warn that it is very important to pay attention to any signs of stereotypic behavior and act as soon as such signs are identified.
According to them, such behavior stimulates the production of endorphins, giving the horse a sensation of well-being. The horse begins to adopt stereotypic behavior as a mechanism to cope with stress. Thus, once the behavior grows into a habit, it is very difficult to eliminate.
The main causes of stereotypic behavior are boredom and frustration, so horse owners should eliminate them by making sure that their horses enjoy the companionship of other horses or domestic animals and they have enough space and freedom to do more and run.
However, even when proper conditions are ensured, the horses can still develop stereotypic behavior. That is why it is recommended that all horse owners attend horse training school Colorado courses to learn how to identify and manage stereotypic behavior.
Managing Stereotypic Horse Behavior
As soon as stereotypic behavior is identified, specialists recommend identifying the causes and eliminating them. This usually means ensuring companionship, movement freedom and an adequate diet, but also checking the yard and the stables for objects that could cause the horse to become anxious, stressed or frustrated.
However, if this is not enough, the owner should seek the help of a behaviorist. Specialists warn that using equipment to prevent stereotypic behavior, such as collars or restraints, is not a reliable solution.
Extensive studies have showed that such equipment only suppresses the behavior, but does not eradicate its causes. The stress or anxiety is still there, and if the horse cannot relieve it through the stereotypic behavior they adopted in the first place, they will simply adopt another type of behavior.
Any horse training school in Colorado reports will show that such equipment only increases equine stress levels, therefore stimulating the cause of stereotypic behavior instead of eliminating it. Instead, owners should focus on understanding horse behavior and managing it through the complex but very efficient methods taught by equine training specialists.